The first time I saw Portuguese Chef, Luísa Fernandes on the Food Network’s Chopped episode on November 10, 2009, I instantly became her fan. As I watched her, I could sense the passion and the love she put into each of the three dishes she prepared. Her innovative cooking skills and her calm collectiveness earned her the winning $10,000 prize that day.
” I think that the victory is not mine, but all of ours, because I’m Portuguese and proud when people recognize our cuisine. That’s why I will never enter another contest unless I can cook the cuisine from our country” said Luisa, in an interview for ComunidadesUSA. One year later, on September 14, 2010 she returned as one of the four contestants of Chopped Champions.
As I learned more about Chef Luisa, I realized that there is so much more to this very talented Portuguese chef than winning Chopped. She is an inspiration to all of us, not only as a great Chef, but as a strong and ambitious Portuguese woman. Luisa was born in Monte Real, Leiria, Portugal. For the first 30 years of her career, she was an orthopedic surgery assistant nurse in which two of those years, she was a parachute nurse. During those years, Luisa traveled throughout Europe, Malta, Morocco, Canada, Mexico, Sudan and Ruanda where she learned many cooking techniques from these cultures. With her passion for cooking she followed her dream and opened her own restaurant called “Tachos de São Bento”, in Lisbon, Portugal. The restaurant was very successful with the locals which included influential politicians. She began receiving offers to do restaurant consulting and did television appearances. Luísa and her restaurant were featured in French Elle magazine.
Although Luísa was enjoying her success in Portugal, in 2003 she decided to pursue her dream of moving to New York City. When she arrived at Kennedy Airport, not knowing any English and without any job prospects she thought to herself, “If I find a job working in a restaurant I’ll stay in New York, if not, then I’ll spend three weeks vacation here and then return home.” Six days later, she landed a job at the Portuguese restaurant Alfama. Two years later she moved on to Galitos Restuarant in Mount Vernon NY. In August 2005 Westchester Magazine named her as one of the “The Top 10 Best Chefs” of Westchester NY.
Luisa’s ambition is evident in her extensive resume which includes working as pastry chef at United Nations, many New York restaurants such as, Park Blue, Tintol, Georgia’s Cafe and Bakery, Bairrada Restaurant, Nomad and most recently working at Best Chocolate Cake in the world. She has hosted several events at Jame Bear, Cordon Bleu Institute (Boston), William Sonoma, New York Volunteer of America and Portugal Day in Central park. She was a private chef for pearl and jewelry mogul, Salvador Assael. She has also catered private parties for celebrities such as Johnny Deep and for Portuguese governmental entities. She continues to do consulting as well. She has been featured in numerous publications including the the New York Times, Dinners Journal, Plate Magazine, Specialty Food Magazine, Luso Americano, Jornal Expresso, Mundo Português, Jornal de Economia, and Ionline.
In her latest endeavor Luisa has returned to Galitos Restaurant as the Executive Chef. Galitos, specializes in authentic Portuguese cuisine in a relaxed, friendly environment as a cozy neighborhood restaurant. It offers an appetizing dining experience, an extensive wine selection, a casual bar with daily specials and fresh seafood.There is a private room that on the Friday nights hosts an all-you-can eat buffet option includes an extensive selection of traditional Portuguese dishes such rissois, croquets, codfish cakes, fried calamares, arroz de marisco, lombo de porco, empadas, bacalhau `a Gomes de Sa, homemade Portuguese desserts and live entertainment (music) with option to dance. They are now offering traditional Portuguese pastries such as Pasteis de Nata, Pasteis de Tentual, Pasteis de Feijao.
Dinner $20 person
Appetizer, Main Course, Desert & Wine
Buffet and Live Music with 12 Appetizers, 5 Main Courses and 6 Deserts!!!
Contacts and Reservations
For reservations and information call 914.668.9017
If you would like to be kept informed of upcoming events, special menus & news about Galitos, please click here to provide us with your contact info.
29 Elm Avenue, Mount Vernon
New York, 10550
Lunch – Mon – Fri 11:30am – 3:00pm
Dinner – Mon – Thurs 5:00pm – 10:00pm Fri – Sat 5:00pm – 10:30pm
Chef Luisa Fernandes and her team will work with you to ensure every detail is perfect and to your specifications. They will provide you and your guests with a spectacular menu and unforgettable experience for all your special events; from a small gathering of friends, to a large celebration with family, or a meeting in the office.
For more information or to start planning your next event contact the chef at or email her at events@galitos.
To check what people are saying about Galitos click here and here
Specialized in authentic Portuguese cuisine, Galitos is a relaxed, friendly neighborhood restaurant located in Mount Vernon, NY.
Chef Luisa Fernandes (Chopped Champion – Food Network)